I thank the Minister of State for attending the House for this debate. The long-running problem of the parking of heavy goods vehicles has been a source of much annoyance and anger for residents and residents' association for many years. Trucks parked in residential areas are unsightly, cause traffic hazards, attract anti-social activity and provide cover for muggings, including handbag snatching. This issue has been a matter of grave concern to Dublin City councillors in particular because, while this is not solely an urban issue, it primarily affects the Dublin city area.
After much toing and froing over recent years between the four Dublin local authorities, councillors were told the delay in implementing a ban on parking heavy goods vehicles was as a result of problems the Garda had encountered. We waited and posed several questions to the Minister, but several Adjournment debates later we still find ourselves no nearer to resolving the problem.
We thought a solution had been found last October when new regulations came into force from the Department of the Environment and Local Government. Under Article 38 of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, 1997, provision is made for prohibiting the parking of large vehicles in areas where the relevant traffic signs and information plates are erected. Under the regulations, the signs and information plates must be erected at the entrance to these areas and a further sign and plate must be erected indicating where the prohibition ends. If the ban is widely implemented it will mean we will have a proliferation of signs and plates all over the city.
At present, many residents' associations are seeking such a ban in their areas. Under the 1997 regulations the legal advice available to Dublin Corporation is that it must erect a very ugly three foot high sign — which costs approximately £3,000 to produce — at the start and end of whatever area wants the ban. That can mean an entire housing estate or individual roads. I am sure the Minister will agree it would be totally unacceptable and ludicrous if practically every residential street in the Dublin city area was to have one of these big signs at the start and end of it. Clearly, this is not possible. We cannot continue in this way, yet Dublin Corporation's legal advice is that the only way we can impose a ban is by erecting these signs under the 1997 regulations.
I appeal to the Minister of State to amend those regulations as a matter of urgency in order to allow Dublin Corporation to impose a blanket ban on the entire city, which is what residents want. Both the public and councillors of all parties on the corporation want to be able to impose a blanket ban on the parking of heavy goods vehicles in all residential areas. Certain designated areas could then be exempted for parking, such as industrial estates where such parking would not cause a problem.
This is a long-running issue and has been a source of much annoyance. It is exasperating for public representatives to try to explain why they cannot simply introduce a blanket ban on the parking of heavy goods vehicles in residential areas. I do not understand why we cannot do it because smoky fuel was banned with the stroke of a pen and this environmental problem is just as serious. It is also a security problem because of the many anti-social problems associated with areas where heavy goods vehicles are parked. I appeal to the Minister of State to urgently amend the regulations to allow Dublin Corporation to introduced such a blanket ban.